I rock

Nov. 24th, 2010 01:26 pm
aryanhwy: (Default)
I just finished my transcription.

(By which I mean, "first pass"; I still need to sit down with it and fill in the wholes and make sure I expanded all the grammatical endings right and make notes about possible errors, etc. But still!)

I've got a week and a half left in Denmark (well, more like 5 days, since 5 over the weekend will be spent in Vienna and Budapest). But I doubt I'll just sit here and twiddle my thumbs. :)
aryanhwy: (Default)
Or, 5 things post makes.

- Yesterday evening when I headed to the metro, it was raining. When I left the metro, it was snowing. I woke up to ~2 inches this morning, and there's little flurries dancing outside my window right now.
- Yesterday I also transcribed three columns of my text: Meaning I have about 1 3/4 columns left. Meaning that once I get off LJ and start working, there is a very real chance I could finish the transcription today, a week and a half before I leave.
- Denmark has the best butter ever. I will be bringing some home with me.
- Like Russia, Denmark seems a lot like the rest of Europe when you first get there, but once you're there for awhile longer it starts seeming a bit...strange. I have now twice seen commercials for something called "Mister Fartman".
- I had another run in with the authorities on Sunday coming back from the airport. Turns out that when, the day I arrived, I asked for a monthly pass between Kastrup and the city center (Kastrup being the suburb where I was going to be living, and where the airport is located), I was not in fact given such a pass. So when the metro ticket checkers came along and checked my ticket, they informed it wasn't valid and wrote me up a fine worth more than the monthly pass itself. Grrr. I am in process of trying to appeal it, though the person I'm working with here (who very kindly wrote me an appeals letter in Danish) says I shouldn't hold out much hope.

I miss my cats. I miss Joel. I haven't had internet at home the last two evenings, and by the time I get home at night anyway I'm exhausted. I nearly flooded the bathroom last night. I'll be glad to go home.

But the actual palaeographical work is still really cool and awesome and makes up for everything else.
aryanhwy: (Default)
The whole point of coming to Copenhagen was to work with colleagues in the SAXO Institut (for Greek and Latin) learning how to do palaeography. I'm working on an MS from the mid 13th C, an anonymous text on sophismata, and I'm transcribing the one on Tantum verum opponitur falso. My training has essentially been to work through the manuscript during the day, making my stumbling transcription, and then meeting for an hour with someone who has been doing this longer than I've been alive to go through it all to correct all my errors and fill in my holes. Last week things went pretty slowly, as I started learning the idiosyncracies of the text I'm working with, and as I spent more time than planned going to and from, and sitting at, the police station. But, I've now done about three columns, which equals about four A4 LaTeX document class "article" pages.

I'm having a blast with the sleuthing aspect of paleography, but what has independently fascinated me is the information-conveyance aspect of it. The text is heavily abbreviated -- to the point where when I find a word that is written out in full, it often causes me to stumble, because I just don't expect it, especially if it's a short word (for example, I recently found hoc spelled out. I second-guessed myself on it because surely he wouldn't write that out, he'd abbreviate it!) -- which means that a lot of information can be compressed into a small amount of space. However, on the flip side, there's a lot of redundancies: Often the same sentiment is expressed two or three times over, in just minor variants of grammatical structure. You might wonder "what's the point in abbreviating everything and then saying it three times over", instead of just writing it out in full once -- it would probably take about the same amount of space, and hence about the same amount of effort to write -- but there's actually a good reason for repeating things in triplicate, and that is that it makes the text really quite robustly error-proof. If a scribe makes a mistake in copying, whether it's something minor like forgetting a word, or something more major like skipping over a line, if you've got the same information presented in two or three different ways, it's likely that one or more of the other presentations will still be correct, and so the reader can mentally amend the text and correct the scribe's mistake (and in fact this is often what an editor of a text will do). So what you've got is a system of information presentation which is extremely compressed, so you can fit a lot of information in a small amount of space, and yet is relatively error-proof, so that as it is copied, the content of the text is quite stable.

I find this fascinating.

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aryanhwy

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